A sow and her cubs. (John Marriott photo)

Bear witness: Salmon Arm’s John Marriott offers intimate look at black, polar and grizzly bears

Sarah Elmeligi and Marriott's What Bears Teach Us explores bear/human co-existence

For many an hour John Marriot’s attention, and camera lenses, have been focused on bears.

It is fitting, then, that bears should be the subject of the seventh book the Salmon Arm-raised award-winning wildlife photographer has been involved in.

Written by friend, biologist and fellow conservationist Sarah Elmeligi, What Bears Teach Us offers a visually stunning and intimate look at bears – black, grizzly and polar, and the relationships humans share with them.

Marriott said the images in What Bears Teach Us were taken over a 15 year span that included outings with Elmeligi in preparation for the book.

“I’ve been hooked on photographing bears basically since I started taking pictures 27 years ago,” said Marriott. “I’ve even chased bears in the Shuswap, got up in Pukeashun Provincial Park up on the Adams Plateau looking for grizzlies, things like that. But the majority of the photos in the book are from all across Canada… There’s definitely a lean towards B.C. mostly because B.C. just has more grizzly bears and black bears that anywhere else in the country.”

Marriott said he learned his love for the outdoors from his parents when he lived in Salmon Arm.

“My parents both taught in town and I kind of learned my love for the outdoors out on Scotch Creek and the Adams plateau and Yard Creek, all kinds of areas around the Shuswap, both fishing and wildlife viewing with my parents – with my dad in particular,” said Marriott who, after earning a degree at UBC in forestry and wildlife management, wound up becoming a full-time professional wildlife and landscape photographer.

Marriott currently calls Canmore, Alta. home. He is a fellow in The International League of Conservation Photographers, and an ambassador for Canon

What Bears Teach us blends years of study with stories from the field, offering unique insight into the lives of bears and how they co-exist with humankind.

“How successful bears are on the landscape depends on many things, including how we define coexistence,” writes Elmeligi. “If we respect bears and give them the space they need, we can coexist. If we take a holistic view of bear management and coexistence that incorporates animal and human welfare, we can change how we define coexistence and thus how we manage for it.

“Coexistence is best achieved when people work together as recreationists, community members, businesses and land management agencies.”

One of the stories in the book details an experience Elmeligi and Marriott had when they were bluff charged by a grizzly.

“It’s quite an interesting story and not necessarily what one might think when they first read that,” said Marriott. :”There’s much more behind the story and in bear behaviour, specifically, that explains why the bear did it.”

Marriott said fans of his previous books, of wildlife and anyone who loves bears “is going to absolutely love the book.”

What Bears Teach Us is available on wildernessprints.com and in Salmon Arm at Bookingham Palace in the Mall at Piccadilly. To learn more about Marriott visit wildernessprints.com, and see his video channel, EXPOSED Wildlife Conservancy on Youtube.

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A grizzly bear photographed in the Chilcotin. (John Marriott photo)

A happy, well-fed bear cub plays in the grass in northern B.C. (John Marriott photo)

A happy, well-fed bear cub plays in the grass in northern B.C. (John Marriott photo)